Review / The Homeless Gospel Choir, Arkells & Frank Turner @ O2 Academy


From ferocious punk rock to heart rendering acoustic ballads, Frank Turner’s energetic blend of folk-punk takes Bristol’s 02 Academy by absolute storm.

Having reached commercial success in 2011 with his 4th Album, England Keep My Bones, Frank Turner has since enjoyed a somewhat incredible career. Throughout this career, he has conquered the likes of Wembley Arena, Alexandra Palace and The Royal Albert Hall. The singer-songwriter even performed atop a grassy mound at Danny Boyle marvellous 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. Yet still after such highlights, it seems his fans have always been at his side since the very beginning. His fans are never mere casual listeners, but instead a diehard group who shout along to every single word as if it’s all they know. Bristol’s crowd was no different.

Show 2160, Bristol Academy.

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Frank Turner and his Sleeping Souls commenced proceedings with an explosive start. Frist song, ‘1933’, raised the roof off the 02 Academy, while Turner passionately lamented our current political climate. Turner and Co. then continued straight in the rousing full throttle punk energy of 2015’s ‘Get Better’ and ‘The Next Storm’. Within seconds, Turner then soared into fan favourites, ‘Recovery’ and ‘Plain Sailing Weather’, off 2013’s incredible ‘Tape Deck Heart’. With only 5 songs played, countless circles pits had broken out, beers cups were flying and Turner was in particularly stupendous form.

With Donald Trump’s visit to the United kingdom just announced, Turner’s brand new political anthem seemed tremendously apt. Turner introduced brand new song, ‘Make American Great Again’ with a passionate speech rallying support against America’s racist demagogue currently in power. After a flurry of new songs of 7th album, Be More Kind, Turner and Co. launched ferociously into personal favourites of mine. In quick succession, ‘I Am Disappeared’, ‘One Foot Before The Other’ and rare treat ‘Imperfect Tense’ saw myself and other Turner diehards smiling somewhat gleefully. ‘Imperfect Tense’ ushered an incredible reception, having not been heard live since 2011. Despite this, it seemed the whole of Bristol’s 02 Academy sang along as if it was Turner’s biggest hit to date.

Midway through the set, Turner’s backing band, ‘The Sleeping Souls’, left the stage. This left Turner alone, merely accompanied by his trusty acoustic guitar. After heart wrenching renditions of ‘There She Is’ and ‘The Way I Tend To Be’, fan favourite ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends’ saw the evening’s biggest singalong. After this, Turner’s band reappeared on stage for a closing half hour of some of Turner’s most well-known tracks. This saw Bristol’s 02 Academy descend into a pure frenzy, as those in attendance bellowed every single word ‘Photosynthesis’, ‘I Still Believe’ and ‘Four Simple Words’. The latter track saw Turner spend most of the time crowd surfing and engaging in circle pits. A fitting end for a night of ferocious folk-punk and outstanding community spirit. A live show certain to leave you sweaty, out of breath and beaming with pure elation.

Frank Turner’s roof raising show at Bristol’s 02 Academy also saw rapturous love for support acts, Homeless Gospel Choir and Canadian alt rockers, Arkells. Homeless Gospel Choir blessed early comers with a comical take on punk rock music, armed with just an acoustic guitar. The singer’s blend of self deprecating lyrics and fiery protest music was greatly received by the audience.

After this, Canadian alt rockers, Arkells, took the stage to a tremendous light show. The band offered a mix of protest music and pop hooks, that got fans dancing and geared up for Frank Turner’s headline set. Lead Singer, Max Kerman, paraded around the stage, dancing jubilantly at every given possibility. 2014’s ‘Fake Money’ was a particular highlight from their high-octane support set. However, while brand new politically charged anthem, ‘People’s Champ’, evoked a great sense of excitement among the Bristol crowd. Its groovy and danceable hook seemed to take away its political bite. That being said, it’s fair to say that the Canadian Alt rockers gained some more fans after their successful Bristol set.

Featured image: Epigram / Guy Marcham

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